Colombo, January 26 (newsin.asia): The Indian High Commissioner in Sri Lanka, Taranjit Singh Sandhu, said here on Friday, that the ties between India and Sri Lanka are familial, given the fact that India has always given Sri Lanka a helping hand whenever the island nation needed it most.
“Family is not about blood, it’s about who is willing to hold your hand when you need it most,” the envoy said quoting the Buddha.
He was speaking at a reception held at the India House to celebrate his country’s becoming a Republic with a new constitution 69 years ago.
The Guest of Honor at the select gathering of artistes, intellectuals , captains of industry, and state dignitaries, was the Minister of Special Assignments Dr.Sarath Amunugama, a social anthropologist and a biographer of Anagarika Dharmapala who led Buddhist revival in Sri Lanka and India in early 20 th.Century.
To the pleasant surprise of the guests, President Maithripala Sirisena also graced the occasion towards the end, partook of refreshments in the company of the High Commissioner and his staff, and posed for a group photograph with them.
Further in his speech, High Commissioner Sandhu quoted Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to say that India has been able to “translate physical proximity into closeness” vis-à-vis Sri Lanka.
Illustrating the closeness and understanding that underlies the ties between India and Sri Lanka, Sandhu said: “Our development partnership is unique in as much as it is based on Sri Lanka’s own priorities and requirements.”
The envoy said that India has committed over US$ 2.76 billion in development assistance to Sri Lanka, more than one fourth of it is outright grant. The 1990 Emergency Ambulance Service has now been expanded island-wide. India will be building 10,000 additional houses in the hill country, and set up model villages all over Sri Lanka including the deep South.
Other Indian projects are the 1500 seat auditorium in Ruhuna University and the Kandyan heritage and dance academy at the Dalada Maligawa in Kandy.
The High Commissioner pointed out that Sri Lanka has been the first country to partner with India in the South Asian satellite which India launched last year.
Sri Lanka is also the first country to join India’s National Knowledge Network launched ten days ago. Through the knowledge network, Sri Lankans will have digital access to more than 1600 top educational institutions in India and other countries.
Sri Lankan students can now join the prestigious Indian Institutes of Technology. India continues to be the single largest tourist market for Sri Lanka and Sri Lankan Airlines continues to operate the majority of flights between India and Sri Lanka.
Guest of Honor Dr.Amunugma said that the ties between Sri Lanka and India are multifarious, with people to people and cultural contacts being the speciality. The Special Assignments minister, who has authored a book on Anagarika Dharmapala who had set up the Mahabodhi Society in India and restored the Bodh Gaya temple to Buddhists after a hard struggle, said that India has been large hearted in its relations with Sri Lanka.
Citing an example of Indians’ large heartedness, Amunugama recalled the way Virat Kohli, the successful captain of the Indian cricket team, developed a friendship with Sri Lanka’s indomitable cheer leader Gayan Senanayake, invited him for his wedding, and even shouted: “C’mon Sri Lanka!” with him.
(The featured image at the top is that of the Indian High h Commissioner in Sri Lanka, Taranjit Singh Sandhu)